22 August 2012

How to look like a Vintage swimwear vixen: 41 Great looks!

I was asked by the lovely Elizabeth from ButterflyBoo to do a guest post for her, while she is away on her holidays. I wrote all about the history of swimwear and you can find it here. To coincide with it I'm going to show you how to achieve the styles with high street pieces. Don't worry we'll have you catching the hunky lifeguards eye in no time.

My post included the 1900s and the 1910s, however to get the look these days would be pretty hard and it's not very practical for tan lines. Women wore black, knee-length, puffed-sleeve wool dresses, worn over bloomers or drawers trimmed with ribbons and bows. Accessories included long black stockings and lace-up bathing slippers. No heels or lip gloss, sorry TOWIE ladies.
1920's Swimsuits
Thankfully by 1915 heavy fabric swimsuits were reduced and became more athletic and androgynous looking due to women swimming more. So I'm starting my how to get the look post at the 1920s.
In the 1920s bathing suits changed into a one piece with a long top that covered shorts. The fashion was to have a pattern swimsuit such as spots, stripes or an abstract pattern.

I've found these gorgeous swimsuits for you to try and achieve the look. Get the trend with boy type shorts, but make it more modern by showing off more of your lovely assets. The spotty ones are super cute and can help hide any lumps or bumps you have.
ASOS ruched skirt, £43 / Shorts / Seafolly one piece bikini swimwear, £92

1930s SwimsuitsCatching the sun and having gorgeous tanned skin became a hobby in the 1930s. Swimsuits changed from being made of wool jersey to Lastex stretchy cotton. Prints were still popular along with ribbons or belts around the waist. 
The one piece was made shorter with little over skirts becoming popular, along with an exposed v-neck. No more brown face and white body for those ladies.

I found these beautiful pieces, some with little skirts to help hide your thighs. I love the blue zig zag swimsuit with the 30's style belt to help clinch the waist in and make you have a waist to rival Dita von Teese. I love the lighter blue swimsuit too with the tie around the middle, which is also a great waist clincher. Wearing one of these you'll definitely blag yourself your very own Clark Gable.
Plus Padded Skirt Swimsuit - Marks & Spencer / Panache swimwear, £50 / Red Or dead, £48 / Tummy Control Spotted Skirt Swimsuit - Marks & Spencer / French Connection Zig Zag Belted One Piece Swim Suit, £35

1940's Swimsuits
Along with meat, vegetables and all the important things in life such as chocolate, there was a shortage in fabric. Factories began to make smaller swimsuits and cutout midriffs to create the tankini. Halter and bandeau bras and skirted bottoms and shorts were available, so women had a lot more styles to choose from. Bottoms were high waisted and covered the tummy button. No thong just yet ladies, so relax.
ASOS vintage top, £38 / ASOS one piece swimsuit / Aso, £6.50 / Seafolly beach bikini, £73 / ASOS animal print swimwear, £10

The looks I've found reflect the 1940s style, but with a modern twist. The flowery one has a flattering halter neck fitted shape to it with a boy short type look, which was still worn at the time. The red and white polka dot swimsuit has a frilly skirt type bottom, with bra cups along with the patterned white one with a halter neck top. The first tankinis include a great black spotty set with high waisted bottoms along with a gorgeous leopard print patterned tankini. Don't worry you won't look like you've got granny pants on with these beauties.

1950's SwimsuitsWith Marilyn Monroe and her curves constantly on show, swimsuits became more curvaceous and fitting. Zips were used in the back of swimsuits to create a corset like appearance along with boning and padded shaped cone bras. Bandeau styles and strapless low cut styles became very popular. Women wanted to keep their hair dry, so bathing caps were introduced with flowers and petals on as decoration. Let the Lady Gaga looks begin.

I adore this pink, blue and orange patterned fitted swimsuit with a halter neck and moulded cups. This also has a black waistband to give you those Marilyn type curves. The pink swimsuit takes the zip from the 1950's and gives it a modern twist, by having the zip in the middle on the front. It is a bandeau style and is contoured to make you look super lean.

The black swimsuit with white polka dots is iconic of the 50's, with a low cut bandeau style to show off your cleavage and a white tie as decoration. The white patterned halter neck is brilliant too and very flattering, especially once you have a tan. If you want to show some more flesh check out this gorgeous tankini with a cadillac print and high waisted bottoms. This floral print turban is a great modern change to the hat look keeping your hair under wraps, no crazy frizzy beach hair for you.

In the 60s bikini's became a lot more popular and for the first time the belly button was shown. In the late 60s swimsuits began to show a bit more skin with mesh net panels or cut out midriffs, filled in with plastic rings. Sorry ladies, its time to do some leg lifts.
1960's Swimsuits

These bikinis with their halter neck styles are flattering on the figure with patterns, bright colours and ruffles to help you look even more gorgeous. The black bikini helps turn the 60s cut out panels into a modern look with the bikini bottoms having cut out sides. If you'd rather completely cover your hips, you can still work the look in this pink bikini with cut out straps on the top. Wearing these you'll get some seriously cool tan lines.

Seafolly beach bikini, £62 / ASOS hipster bikini, £6.50 / Aso, £4.87 / Panache Fleur Bikini Set at ASOS

With the 70s being full of free love and hippys, swimwear got on the bandwagon becoming more revealing with triangle cups and string bikinis becoming popular with bottoms fitting on the hips. Being oh so sexy was the aim, with some women even wearing sheer swimsuits, now that takes some serious confidence, that or too many Martini's.
1970's Swimsuits

I've found you a white sheer bikini, but if you don't fancy the Playboy bunny look you can work this blue maxi dress over your bikini for a great cover up on the beach. Tie dye was popular in the 70s so give this a tribute with this superb pink and white tie dye triangle bikini. The swirly painted triangle string bikini will also have you looking colourful and dazzling.
If you fancy being a bit more flamboyant get this lavish bright technicoloured bikini with turquoisey feathers. This is literally the 70's in a bikini.

Bandeaus tops became even more popular along with racer T backs being worn, to show of toned arms and backs as the athletic build was sought-after. It was not all muscles and abs though as the thong bikini was introduced mainly by the playboy bunnies, thanks very much Hugh Hefner, no more second helpings of puddings for us. 
1980's Swimsuits
ASOS bandeau bikini, £12 / ASOS sporty swimwear, £4.33 / Ruffle bandeau bikini / O'Neill swimwear, £15

Get the althletic look with this racer style bikini that's perfect for imitating the likes of Christie Brinkley. These gorgeous strapless bandeau styles with prints will make you sparkle more then Joan Collins' outfits in Dynasty, believe me that's a hard task.
If you're boobs are bigguns try this halter neck style bikini to keep them all in. We don't want them to pop out whilst seductively lusting over the hotel waiter, do we.
1990's Swimsuits
The one piece was still popular but contained lots of cut outs, criss crosses and halter necks. The famous high V cut bottoms were introduced, that thank god aren't seen anymore, no one wants a bikini wax every 2 weeks do they?
Bright and bold colours were in style as long as zazzy prints.

You can get the look with this figure flattering swimsuit with lattice and beaded detailing, along with this coral coloured one with mesh detailing. If you fancy covering up a bit more but still working the trend, try this printed halter neck swimsuit with a sexy mesh insert in the waist. If you want to brave the bikini wear this bold coloured green triangle bikini or this bejewelled red triangle bikini, that Liz Taylor would be jealous of.

Asos, £16 / ASOS hipster bikini, £4.33 / Mark Fast bikini swimsuit / French Connection string bikini, £17 / Asos, £15

2000's Swimsuits
Within the past 12 years so many styles have become available with it being all about what suits your body and being uber stylish at the same time. The high cut V bottoms of the 90s have become a lot softer V, hallelujah! 
Work the metallic and underwater trend this year with this dazzling metallic mermaid style asymetric cut out swimsuit. This bold coloured printed cut out suit is great if you want to cover up your tummy a little bit more, but still get a great tan. If you want go for a bikini, wear popular pastels in this strapless bikini and work the printed look with this bold yellow, black and white bikini. 
Want to be a bit more extravagant? Try the fringe trend with the salmon pink bikini, so much more practical then wearing the whole cowgirl getup.

Asos / River Island hipster bikini, £8.67 / Lepel padded bikini, £17 / ASOS hipster bikini, £7.59 / ASOS cut out swimwear

Swimwear has evolved a lot over the past hundred years and now we can cover up any wobbly bits we have or flaunt our curves as much as we want. From fringing to high waisters we can conquer any style we like and pull off any trend. Let's just keep our fingers crossed Lady Gaga does not bring out a meat bikini collection, you'd be pretty popular with sea creatures if she did.

Second Hand Rose


  1. Ah i loveee this post! I think i'm a 1940s swimwear girl- The shapes and high waists are so cute!

  2. although i don't wear swimwear much, this is incredibly detailed! by going through the different styles, you've really given me a much better insight to vintage fashion in this area! :D


  3. Swimwear, as a fat chick, is one of my mortal enemies. Do I go full-blown Victorian to cover up, or should I embrace what I have and get myself a fatkini [I love this word so much. so. so. much.]?

    I love most of these swimsuits, which is strange. Especially ASOS' vintage-styled ones! That Cadilliac print high-waisted bikini? I need that more than I need air. [hello over-dramatisation!]

  4. Love how you depicted each decade through pictures! Great swimwear inspiration post! Well, now one can be retro chic in swim wear too!
    Juneli from Fashionably Yours

  5. I totally didn't know that tankini's started because of a shortage of fabric! The tan lines on some of those costumes must have been rediculous!

    Love, Elizabeth xx


  6. Great post. Like lucy I love the 40s styles, and the 20s and 30s are great too. I had an orange crochet bikini in the 70s, mindyou i was only 8, but it's not somethng I intend to repeat! Deb xxx

  7. Such a great post! ASOS do some really great options :)

    LelaLondon.com - Fashion Blog

  8. this post is very interesting. it's like history of swimsuits!
    would you like to follow each other?

  9. I love the swimsuits! The earlier decades are my favorites. Great color choices.

    I hope you are having a great weekend. Tomorrow is the last chance to enter our giveaway.
    Sunny Days and Starry Nights Giveaway

  10. All these swimsuits are lovely, I think I like the 1950s styles the best, I'm one for full swimming costumes, however the swimming caps aren't my style... I do like the cutout ones of our times now xxx

  11. Great post and great selection,lovely!
    I love especially 1940s swimsuits.So cutee
    See you soon
    Fashion tea at 5

  12. I have missed you and your wonderful blog posts! :) I absolutely love reading your blog as I always learn SO much. Every day is a school day! You're also charming and witty and clever and it makes me smile.

    I love this post! My swimwear collection consists of two mismatching bikini sets, though I have always wanted to invest in something funky/polka dotted. Love, love, love the 50s style ones, they're so flattering!


  13. Such a fab post - so interesting to read! The 1940's and 1950's inspired suits are so lovely - now just need to book a holiday so I can wear one :)
    Lianne x

  14. I love your choices and how you styled them. I've always wanted to wear a vintage one piece style swimsuit but I know i'd look so daft in one of those in the Caribbean, plus I'd have the weirdest tan lines! :D x
    Island Girl Insights ♥

  15. i like the look of vintage swimwear! i especially like the haltered ones. :)

    <3, Mimi
    Mile End Bakery Giveaway: Win a dozen cookies of your choice!
    Open internationally: Win a set of temporary tattoos!

  16. Hey, I've nominated your blog for The Liebster Award.
    Check out http://blondiesstylefix.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/hey-everyone-so-ive-been-nominated-by.html to find out more!

    Lots of Love,
    Blondie X


  17. Ah!i like them so much..those swimsuits from '50 looks really great!

  18. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
    lifeguard swim suit


I hope you have enjoyed my scribblings! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think, they will be repeated constantly to anyone who will listen! Don't forget to click the follow button and add me on Twitter @Second_HandRose and Instagram: second_handrose XxxX